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Mythos Tomes and "Atmosphere"

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A comment to a Kickstarter Update got me thinking - When dealing with Mythos Tomes, are there any specific ones that are evocative of a certain theme? How do you impart that tome's "flavor" to your players? For an example of what I'm wondering, I'll refer you to Shimmin Beg's blog posts about "fun-sizing the Great Old Ones" which kinda talk about how to infuse a GOO into a scenario beyond just having it make an appearance (and he's tackling world-ending ones at that). Based on his post, here's a few things to start off thinking with:

  • cues that can be used to evoke the feel of what the tome is/does
    • slanting descriptions towards the tome's theme/purpose
    • NPC behaviors and actions
    • non-plot events/"random occurrences"
  • The readers of the tome, whether cultists or not - is their mood or behavior impacted by it, either due to proximity or what they read?
  • What mythos entities would be logical inclusions for scenarios with said tome(s), that don't just end the game?


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I am hesitant about inserting too much of "the weird" into my campaigns.  While I admit that many (particularly the more modern) tomes may have stylistic aspects reflective of their authors' mindsets, between the sheer immensity of the tasks of translating, decoding and referencing the typical tome and the headache inspiring enlightenment it offers I think such quirks would be mostly drowned out.  Perhaps simple physically unique elements could be inserted into descriptions to capture some of what you want.

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Massively in favour of weirding it up! Any kind of creepy elements such as:

- being able to recognise others who have read the book, perhaps by something physical, or just knowing. So the shoe shine guy on Main, one of the two twin girls who live down the hallway ...

- the book integrating into the character's life and different aspects of weirdness becoming normal. All dogs eat by turning themselves inside out over their food, and then back again, mirrors showing the back of your head, and nobody noticing a difference.

- the realisation of what the book means takes a while to take effect. It doesn't happen as you read the book. So, the dread curse of Azathoth doesn't do anything for the first week and then a SAN check is required, followed by one 6 days later, then 5 ....

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That's an excellent question, and something I've been thinking about off-and-on for a couple years now.


I'm hesitant about codifying "the Mythos" too much, but it does seem like some tomes, at least, feel like they might benefit from incorporation into a kind of "theme" with certain mythos deities and/or monsters, etc.


For my part:

  • Necromancy and Ghouls (these books might be mouldy, rotten, caked in blood and decayed flesh, bound in bones and flesh):
    • De Vermiis Mysteriis
      (a tome created by Robert Bloch and mentioned in connection to the vampire cult in Stephen King's stories)
    • Cultes des Goules
      (I'm treating this tome is sort of auto-biography of Comte D'Erlette, a former investigator turned Ghoul after searching too deeply into the mysteries of Ghouls while researching his own ancestry; the most complete versions start with D'Erlette's account of finding, observing, and plotting the destruction of Ghouls, followed by D'Erlette's infiltration of the Ghoul cult, then his eventual corruption by the cult, and his version of the mysteries of the cult's mysteries, combined with a strange and half-baked alchemical text alleged to actually be a more serious text disguised in code; the tome basically outlines August Derleth's vision of "the Mythos" in the form of the ravings of an unreliable narrator)
    • The Ghoul's Manuscript
      (I'm treating this as a sort of Ghoul's Bible, dedicated to the worship of Mordiggian, a sort of 'god of vampires and ghouls', containing a Ghoul creation story about how the ghouls were cast from their home world of Midian to Earth like falling stars, and also containing a sort of  "Ghoul's cook-book")
    • The Second Cryptical Book of Hsan
      (Apparently claimed by at least one writer to deal with ritual cannibalism and ghoul cults)
  • Deep Ones and similar aquatic horrors:  (might be waterlogged and smeared with weird slime)
    • Cthaat Aquadingen
      (I treat this as a sort of grimoire for the "conjuration and dismissal of water spirits" such as Deep Ones, and a text describing the origins of "the drowners", a loosely-knit class of parasitic mythos entities that survive by "drowning" the life out of others)
    • Ponape Scripture
    • The Fifth Cryptical Book of Hsan
  • "Deadites" and "Kandarian Demons":
    • Naturan Demonto, AKA Necronomicon Ex-Mortis
      (not to be confused with Al-Hazred's Necronomicon; deals with the conjuration and exorcism of certain evil "nature spirits" and demons known for possessing living and dead human bodies and other living and inanimate objects)
  • Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, Ab-human Priestts of Raaee, Aiirii and Saiitii spirits, traditional ghosts:  (treat either/both of these as an unassuming book somewhere between a pseudoscience textbook and a book of spiritualist ravings)
    • Garner's Lectures
    • Sigsand Manuscript, Incantation of Raaee, and The SaaaMaaa Ritual
      (I use the in a specialized "ghost hunter" setting based roughly on William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki short stories; these treat "ghosts" and "spirits" as generally inhuman beings invading our world from "the Outside", with an internal science treating these entities as resembling an electromagnetic phenomenon)
  • exaggerated "Satanic Panic" '80s heavy metal occultism:
    • Butchery:  Hymns to the Unnameable, Phantasmen der Nacht, and The Goblin's Feast (with apologies to Jeff Woodall) 
    • Sacrifyx:  The Dark Book
    • The "Simon" Paperback Necronomicon, AKA "The Simonomicon"
      (for occasional use in the sort of schlock, over-the-top black comedy/horror that might be unleashed by playing a rock album backwards)


The Necronomicon of Abdul Al-Hazred is, I suppose, more of a catch-all tome that might contain any bit of information about virtually anything relating to Lovecraft's creations.





(YMMV, of course!)





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